For sightseeing, oystering, shrimping, or fishing out on the bay, Matagorda native son Captain J.P, Arnold, a retired commercial fisherman, is available to take your family out on the bay with Day on the Bay Services (www.dayonthbayservices.com). You and your family will learn about the delicate ecosystem, wildlife habitats and natural beauty that make up the bay. Arnold will also entertain you with tales of his Tom Sawyer life as he and his brother Ozzie grew up on the bay.
The county’s roots date back to 1685 when the French explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, sailed into the bay on his famous expedition looking for the Mississippi River. The La Belle, the last of the four ships that La Salle set out with from France, sank in Matagorda Bay in 1686. More than 300 years passed, when, in 1995, a diver from the Texas Historical Society discovered a cannon bearing the royal cartouche of France. The discovery drew worldwide attention in an effort to recover the La Belle. A large cofferdam was built around the ship, providing a dry area for archaeologists to excavate the shipwreck. A fully functioning, half-scale, seagoing replica of the La Belle is now being completed. The home port of La Petite Belle will be in Palacios and the Palacios Area Historical Museum will provide educational tours of the ship.